Intel: Erdogan abandons balancing act in Syria, targets Russia

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Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Russia directly for the first time in a long while in the wake of the recent escalation in northwestern Syria.

Lashing out at intense Russian airstrikes in and around Idlib, Erdogan said Russia “doesn’t comply” with the 2018 Sochi agreement to establish a demilitarized zone around the last stronghold of the Syrian rebels where the Syrian regime’s advances continue.

“The Astana process has become moribund,” Erdogan said, speaking to reporters on his return from Senegal late Wednesday. “Turkey, Russia and Iran should seek a way to revive it.” The talks in the Kazakh capital — initiated by Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin and also involving Iran — first began three years ago to find a solution to the Syrian conflict but have recently stalled.

Why it matters: As Turkey’s relations with the Western powers and regional countries took a nosedive following Ankara’s unilateral moves in Libya and the eastern Mediterranean Sea, Erdogan’s remarks targeting Russia came as a surprise.

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